Monday, August 23, 2010

Puff Pastry

It’s that time of the month when Michelle, Monica, and I share with you what our baking challenge was for the prior month.  If you hadn’t picked up on it.  We’ve been taking a little longer than a month to bake and blog about our experiences.  Last month’s challenge was chosen by yours truly and I’m certain you’ve figured out by my post’s title that it was puff pastry, homemade puff pastry:)

banana tart

This is another example of how awesome our little CB group has been for me!  On my own I probably would have never given puff pastry a try but with the pushing encouragement of Monica & Michelle I can scratch if off my list .   I’m hoping through our post we are encouraging you to get out of your comfort zone and give these recipes a chance.  None of them have actually been difficult but for some reason they seem like it thus putting off a lot of bakers.  If I haven’t said it before or made it clear I’d be happy to answer any questions you have and I’d be willing to bet that Monica and Michelle would as well! 

banana tart3

I’m not sure I was 100% successful.  My puff pastry didn’t seem to puff as much as I thought it should or would.  Still, it tasted pretty good. 


The puff pastry recipe makes two 11x15 inch rectangles; with mine I made two mini-ish  banana tarts with salted caramel and palmiers.  Unfortunately, I goofed with the tarts.  The recipe called for bananas that were not overly ripe.  I guess mine weren’t ripe at all because they got harder after they were baked, not warm and gooey.  The salted caramel and some vanilla ice cream saved the tarts from being inedible but they were still a huge disappointment.   The second recipe I tried was, Ina’s palmiers.  These turned out more like I had hoped and were very good.  Before I forget, I want to make it clear that I messed up the banana tart.  It wasn’t the recipe and I will be making it again. I’ve given you the links to the recipes I used but please note I used Smitten Kitchen’s salted caramel recipe for the banana tart and I added a tablespoon of cinnamon to 1 cup of sugar for the palmiers.


Homemade Puff Pastry
from The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet
4 1/2 sticks (18 oz) cold unsalted butter
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 oz) very cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes.  Transfer the cubes to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the flour and salt to the bowl also and use your hands to mix briefly, until the butter is coated with flour.  Put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.  Combine the water and vinegar in a measuring cup and chill this mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes as well.

After 20 minutes, remove the mixer bowl from the fridge and attach to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  You want the butter to break into smaller pieces of varying sizes (the largest about 1/2-inch square); be careful, however, not to over-mix - if the butter is too small, it will be unable to form flaky layers in your puff pastry.
With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add the water/vinegar mixture to the bowl, drizzling in different points around the bowl.  When the dough begins to come together in large chunks (within about 10 seconds), stop the mixer.  The dough will be slightly moist but it will not look smooth.  Turn the contents of the bowl onto a floured work surface.

Use your hands to shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 6 x 8 inches and 1 1/2 inches thick.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 14 x 16-inch rectangle.  You can flour the dough a bit if necessary, but brush the excess flour away once you've finished rolling the dough out.  Fold the dough into thirds like a letter.   Start with a narrower side facing you and begin by folding the bottom third up.  Next, fold the top third down to complete the "turn."

After you complete the first turn, roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough gently 1 or 2 times, just to fuse the dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  You'll want to repeat this process 2 more times - to create three turns total.  Continue to chill the dough for 30 minutes between turns.  Once you've completed all 3 turns, chill the dough (wrapped in plastic wrap) for at least 1 hour before using.

The dough can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen (double-wrapped in plastic wrap) for 4-6 weeks.  Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator. 
Makes 2 1/4 pounds of dough

Don’t forget to check out Monica and Michelle’s puff pastries!

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